Animals have always been of great interest to Kelley, particularly huge beasts such as dinosaurs, giant reptiles and ice age megafauna.
Could a croc grow as long as 30 feet?
Crocodiles are perhaps the most ferocious creatures on the planet. They can reach gigantic proportions and will eat just about anything alive and kicking – including people hapless enough to get in their way. Getting eaten alive by one of these ravenous beasts may be one of the worst ways to go!
Considering the aforementioned unpleasant—though for most people unlikely happenstance—you may ask yourself: How large can these animals grow? Well, you can find out by continuing to read this article!
Natural History of Crocodiles
There are 23 species of crocodiles presently living on planet earth. For the purpose of this article, all members of the order Crocodilia will be included—crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials. These animals first evolved about 240 million years ago, about the same time as dinosaurs.
Essentially aquatic reptiles, crocodiles have evolved into excellent predators, having long streamlined bodies which help them move quickly both under water and on land. When on land, the Australian freshwater crocodile can “gallop” up to 11 miles per hour (mph). But most crocodiles use a kind of “belly run,” which can move them seven to 10 mph. And even if its prey stays out of the water, crocodiles can suddenly leap from the depths at speeds up to 30 mph, snatch an animal with its jaws and drag it under water!
They’ve got plenty of big, sharp teeth as well. The bite of a crocodile has been measured at 5,000 pounds per square inch, making it the strongest bite of any animal on the planet. This truly devastating bite allows some species to attack and kill sharks.
Crocodiles can stay under water for up to two hours at a time, and the larger ones can go up to a year without eating.
As for longevity, it’s been estimated that crocodiles can live up to 70 years, but there have been many reports of crocodiles living well over a hundred years. Dating them is apparently not an exact science. Maybe they never die!
How Big Can These Monsters Get?
The smallest species of crocodile is the West African Dwarf Crocodile, which can grow up to six feet long. The largest crocodiles are the saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus, commonly called salties) found in northern Australia, Southeast Asia and the eastern coastal area of India. Some of these monsters have been measured at over 20 feet and 2,600 pounds. It’s been estimated that many 23-foot saltwater crocodiles exist today.
In fact, historical accounts show that some salties have reached dinosaurian proportions, measuring over 30 feet in length. In 1840 in the Bay of Bengal one such croc was shot and killed and then measured at 33 feet!
As for Nile Crocodiles, which exist throughout central Africa, reports (verifiable and otherwise) have shown these monsters can reach over 20 feet and 2,400 pounds.
At times, only the carcass, the skin or the skulls of crocodiles have been found, and estimates have been made based on this perhaps inconclusive evidence. Understandably, this process can lead to exaggeration. It seems people love to tell you they found one that was even bigger.
Are Killer Crocs Among Us?
A 20-foot crocodile nicknamed Gustave may have killed as many as 300 people on the Ruzizi River in the African country of Burundi. Nobody knows for certain if this apparent man-eater has killed that many people; nevertheless, this Nile crocodile has attained near mythical status. The crocodile may have been spotted as recently as February 2008 by National Geographic.
In September 2011, authorities in the Philippines captured a 21-foot saltwater crocodile, the largest now held in captivity. Coincidentally, it took 21 days to catch this leviathan. Tragically, it may have been responsible for killing a missing fisherman!
As for perhaps the greatest carnage of humans by crocodiles, on February 19, 1945 in the Battle of Ramree Island in Burma, the Japanese army, while retreating through a mangrove swamp, was attacked by thousands of saltwater crocodiles. As many as 400 Japanese soldiers may have died in this disaster!
Monster Crocs in Florida?
Per an online article entitled “Killer Nile Crocodile in Florida? Experts Say It’s Possible,” dated May 19, 2016, animal researchers, including herpetologist Kenneth Krysko, found three Nile crocodiles in the Everglades of Florida in 2012. The sunshine state is home to many invasive species, including the Burmese python, so it wouldn’t be a great stretch of the imagination to think they exist in Florida. These three crocs were genetically identical to the Nile species, which have been known to kill up to 200 people annually in sub-Saharan Africa.
These researchers think Nile crocodile were released into the wilds of Florida, either accidentally or on purpose, and may exist in large numbers in the remote swamps of southern Florida. Of course, American crocodiles exist in Florida, as many wildlife enthusiasts may know, but they are much smaller and have never been known to kill humans.
But Krysko and other animal experts disagree as on whether anymore Nile crocodiles exist in present day Florida. Incidentally, two of those Nile crocs found in Florida live in captivity and the third was euthanized.
Monster Croc Caught in Australia
According to an article for the Washington Post.com, entitled “Captured: A 1,300 pound crocodile that evaded rangers in Australia for years,” dated 7/10/2018, wildlife authorities trapped a saltwater crocodile longer than 15 feet in length and weighing as much as a grand piano, near the town of Katherine in the Northern Territory of Australia. It was one of the largest crocs ever caught in this region.
Sought by rangers for about 10 years, because they feared it would interact with humans, they estimated that the croc was about 60 years old. After captured and sedated, the animal was taken to a crocodile farm where it will live for the rest of its life, which could be another 10 years or so.
Why Didn’t Crocodiles Go Extinct with the Dinosaurs?
Most scientists think dinosaurs and many other animal species went extinct after an asteroid collided with the earth about 66 million years ago. If that’s true, why didn’t crocodiles go extinct, too—they’re the same kind of animal, right?
Many scientists think dinosaurs were warm-blooded creatures. Such animals must eat almost constantly to stay alive—perhaps as much as once a day—a condition that almost certainly led to the demise of the dinosaurs, which had little to eat once the catastrophe destroyed the plants and animals upon what they fed.
But modern crocodiles are cold-blooded animals; they can survive for up to a year without eating. If such an extinction event happened these days, modern crocs would probably survive once again!
During the Age of the Dinosaurs, some crocodiles grew up to 40 or 50 feet in length; Sarcosuchus imperator grew twice as large as present day saltwater crocs. And, since these giant Cretaceous crocs were almost certainly warm-blooded like dinosaurs, they also went extinct when the hammer of nature fell upon the planet!
Future of Crocodiles
By the 1970s many crocodile species were being over-hunted and pushed toward extinction, and therefore the ones in the wild were generally smaller than 20 feet in length. However, in many parts of the world, particularly the United States, India and Australia, crocodiles (and alligators) are making a comeback. This is good news for them, of course, but in the process crocs are growing big again. Since it’s apparent they may never stop growing, in the coming years and decades we may see salties and other crocs growing up to 30 feet or more.
Are you ready for these monster crocs? If you aren’t—stay away from the water!
Please leave a comment.
© 2011 Kelley Marks
Sara on May 28, 2018:
Hey this is really scary and a really bad way to die I hope I never meet one of these
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on February 08, 2017:
This is a very informative and interesting article. It makes me realize how dangerous and swift these crocs can be, at the same time it's ironic how they are becoming extinct. I was thinking of Steve Irwin when I was reading this. It was also nice to see Lolong, the biggest Philippine croc in the video. Sadly, Lolong died after just two months.
Bestler on July 11, 2014:
Great lots of facts but some of it should be measured to stuf and determin what you should do if you run into one
Khadesha Foster on February 27, 2013:
omg thes creatures are so huge. if one nigh when I am sleeping and ever dreamt that I am Near one of them I would have never slept a gain......
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on December 18, 2012:
Modern crocs are big enough for me, dude. You can keep your sarcosuchus or whatever. Later!
Sat on December 17, 2012:
You mean sarcosuchus and dienosuchus? Nah,purussaurus beats supercroc. But you are pretty nice,Kosmo.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 14, 2012:
Yes, samowhamo, there was a species of crocodiles that grew up to 50 feet long and hunted dinosaurs. Let's be happy those monsters went extinct, though the surviving species are scary indeed. Later!
samowhamo on November 13, 2012:
You should see fossils of supercroc. In prehistoric times supercroc could get as long as a school bus and eat dinosaurs.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 10, 2012:
It's truly unsettling to consider the possibility that a monstrous crocodile could have killed (and presumably eaten) as many as 300 people! Let's hope that story is more hype than fact. Later!
Mark Humphreys on November 08, 2012:
There are varifiable reports that the Killer Croc Gustave in Africa is around 22 feet. Originaly he was thought to be around 20 feet but using new technology as lazer readers to determine the length they measured what they believed to be Gustavee according to notable scars on his body sitting on the river bank and the measurements came back as 22 feet. He is reported to have killed over 300 peoeple possibly even more !!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 27, 2011:
Thanks for the comment, xcubist. It is hard to imagine a 30-foot croc coming at you through the water. Dinosaurs were that big. OMG!!! Later!
xcubist on September 27, 2011:
Holy cow batman!! Just seeing the 21 footer in the video and it's approximate weight of 2370 pounds, I don't think I could even imagine a 30 footer. You are talking another whale like species swimming the salts.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 21, 2011:
Yes, Simone Smith, many of us are in awe of monster crocs, just as we are with dinosaurs, sea monsters and dragons. Later!
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on September 21, 2011:
Yikes. Just... yikes. But crocodiles have always fascinated me. They're so old, so fearsome!! I suppose they're the one of the closest things we have to dragons sea monsters... and for that, I'm thankful! I mean, who doesn't love the occasional mythical being.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 19, 2011:
You're right, rwelton, it would be fairly easy to hold a croc's jaw shut, but getting away from it thereafter would definitely be a problem!
As for you RealHousewife, I also hope there are 30-foot crocs somewhere on the planet. You know, I really dig monsters!
Hey, tonymead60, croc burgers sound appetizing, but let's not start a trend that could push them toward extinction again. Later!
Tony Mead from Yorkshire on September 19, 2011:
good question, I visited a place in India and the crocs seemed bigger than the vehicle we were traveling in. Some must have been going on 20 foot long, what a burger that would make.
rwelton i love the image of your comment, you're right, it's not holding that beasts jaw shut, it's letting go without being eaten that's the problem. :(
rwelton from Sacramento CA on September 18, 2011:
One of the Wikipedia links mentioned that crocs have weaker jaw muscles for opening their jaws vs. closing and that a man could easily hold the crocs jaws shut...the imagination runs wild about how long would one have to do that before finally letting go...and running like hell across the surface of the water...
Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on September 18, 2011:
I hope there are 30 foot crocs out there somewhere too - I just hope to never see it on person! Really interesting info!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 18, 2011:
Thanks for the comments, Seeker7 and Silver Poet. Crocodiles certainly are fascinating, deadly creatures. You know, I really hope there are 30-foot crocs somewhere. Later!
Tkumah on September 18, 2011:
Amazing facts and thoughts provoking:)
Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on September 18, 2011:
This is awesome! And the photos are great! I didn't realise that there was so many different species of crocodile? That was fascinating.
I know they are ferocious hunters - I watch nature documentaries, but I'm afraid when the hunting scenes come on I fast forward or switch over until it's finished!! But to get back to the point, I was watching a documentary on these awesome animals, and I was stunned to see not only how gentle they are when finding a mate, but also with their young. It was very touching and put a whole new light on these amazing animals!
There are many areas of the world largely unexplored so perhaps there is a 30 footer somewhere? This would be shocking but exciting as well.
Great hub! voted up + awesome!
Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on September 18, 2011:
I have always been fascinated with how crocs are so powerfully built with a thick and impenetrable skin and huge gaping jaws. Interesting hub.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 18, 2011:
You're right, Cardisa, crocodiles are truly scary. Can you imagine being anywhere near the water where a 20- or 30-foot monster may lurk? Anyway, the PBS program "Nature" has a program about crocs that you may want to watch. Hey, stay wary near the water. Anyway, you may have the American crocodile species in Jamaica. Later!
Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on September 18, 2011:
I have a knack for loving scary stuff.....it's a curse.
This hub truly scared the "bejesus" out of me but I was truly intrigued with every word. We have them here in Jamaica but seriously I couldn't say whether they are crocs or alligators. I am quite dumb when it comes to the difference between the two.
This scary was was very interesting indeed. You have a way to write scary things so they don't really appear so scary.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 17, 2011:
Based on the research I did, a 30-foot crocodile would weigh about 3,600 pounds. Wow! Yes, indeed, stay out of the water. Thanks for the comment. Later!
point2make on September 17, 2011:
Interesting hub, thanks for the info. It does, however, make you think twice about going into the water. I wonder how much a 30 ft croc would weigh?